A Little defamation?

Last month Labour leader Andrew Little made some controversial comments about Scenic Circle being granted a contract to assist management of a resort in Nuie, saying it “stinks to high heaven”.

NZ Herald reports: Hotel chain’s ultimatum to Andrew Little: You have one week to apologise

Last month, Mr Little compared the Scenic Hotel Group’s resort contract with what he described as the Government’s “dodgy deals” with SkyCity casino and a sheep farm in Saudi Arabia.

“New Zealand money, which was earmarked as aid for the island nation, has instead been given to upgrade a resort run by a National party donor,” he claimed.

Mr Little said at that time that the close timing of the donation to the awarding of the contract “stinks to high heaven”.

The Matavai is owned by the Niue Tourism Property Trust on behalf of the Government of Niue, which owned the resort before then.

But yesterday…

Earl Hagaman, the founder of the Scenic Hotel Group, said Mr Little had a week to retract and apologise for comments he made last month about the management of a resort owned by Matavai Niue Limited.

Mr Hagaman and wife Lani Hagaman said that after seeking advice, their solicitor had notified the Labour leader today that defamation proceedings would ensue “unless the position can be properly retrieved”.

Lani Hagaman said their lawyers had confirmed their view that Mr Little’s allegations were “false and defamatory”.

“We are asking for a full retraction and apology because no one should be verbally attacked and denigrated because they believe in democracy and the right to make their own unsolicited political choice on who they want to give a donation to,” Lani Hagaman said.

“The decision to make the donation was completely unsolicited and was Earl’s personal decision and nothing to do with the Scenic Hotel business.”

Lani Hagaman criticised Mr Little’s use of his Parliamentary role to attack their business.

She said her and Earl did not “come from power or privilege” and had strived to give others a livelihood and provide support to regional economies “where other big hotel chains won’t invest”.

“The position Andrew Little holds is one of power and privilege. It should be a privilege to be elected into Parliament and work hard for the people of New Zealand, rather than to cast unjustifiable slurs on people because they have made a donation to the party of his prime political opponent.”

Little has confirmed and responded:

Mr Little said he had received a letter from the Hagaman’s lawyer this morning. He was now “considering the issue and taking advice”.

He added: “I will not be restrained from undertaking my constitutional role of calling the government of the day to account.”

At that stage at least he didn’t seem to understand that the Hagamans were holding the leader of the opposition of the day to account

 

But Little appeared to later reassess his situation:

VanceLittleDefamationResponse

Vance tweeted after a press conference two hours later:

Little says he’s taking legal advice and he’ll respond by the deadline (next Friday).

But says he won’t resile from his duty to hold Govt to account. Won’t answer question about standing by statements.

Little seems to be confusing holding the Government to account and holding himself to account.

He has go himself into a very awkward situation here. He has recently taken to talking tough and has been called out for allegedly stepping over the line.

Taking a step back and apologising seems to be difficult for him. But not apologising risks dragging this out over the next few months and possibly in to election year.

This holding to account thing can be tricky when it rebounds.

See also: Little takes advice on defamation threat

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34 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  13th May 2016

    Yesterday I was thinking Andy would have to apologise, but on thinking about it now, I don’t recall hearing whether the Auditor-General has decided to investigate the Scenic Hotel deal or not. Defamation proceedings might take a year or more to get to Court and I imagine Andrew’s legal advice might be “don’t apologise until an investigation is done and the results announced”. This may prompt the AG to make a decision on the investigation soon.

    Reply
    • The middle of next year is not a good time for the Labour leader to be embroiled in defamation proceedings.

      No time is good for it but leading into an election is just about the worst time.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  13th May 2016

        If he apologises now he’s effectively saying the whole country -” Ok, sorry about that. Hi everyone, as you can clearly see, and just there’s no doubt about it whatsoever, I’m a farkin idiot.”

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  13th May 2016

          lol – and so am I – readers please mentally insert the missing “to” and “no” in the appropriate places.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  13th May 2016

            Aw gawd. the “no” should a “so”. Look … I’ve had a coffee now. I’ll just try again:

            If he apologises now he’s effectively saying to the whole country – ”Ok, sorry about that. Hi everyone, as you can clearly see, and just so there’s no doubt about it whatsoever, I’m a farkin idiot.”

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  13th May 2016

              He would do far better to say that he was mistaken and sorry for the stress caused, then it would soon die down. Only a weakling never admits to being wrong.

            • Gezza

               /  13th May 2016

              I don’t think you’re thinking that through enough Kitty. Can you seriously imagine John Key or Government Ministers ever letting that die down? Because I can’t.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  13th May 2016

              Yes-they have other things to think about. All he needs to do is say ‘I was wrong about SH, and I have apologised to them.’ He could apologise fully to the SH people. I’d think more of him. He needn’t grovel, just say sorry.

              Then it would be over in the public eye-we’re not that fascinated by it. Better an apology than a lawsuit.

  2. My late boss CJ was wont to say “I didn’t get where I am today by getting into legal battles with people with deeper pockets and better lawyers than mine.” That’s advice Mr Little would be well advised to follow.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  13th May 2016

      Whatever he decides, it might now penetrate through his cranium and into his mind that continuing to accuse or imply that the government, or John Key, are guilty of dirty dealings in anything, without actual evidence in the hand, is very, very silly idea.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  13th May 2016

        ‘dirty dealings’….very vague there.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  13th May 2016

          Tryin to avoid defamation proceedings B.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  13th May 2016

            I had forgotten that he is a lawyer-I’m glad that he’s not MY lawyer.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  13th May 2016

              It’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of his legal proficiency that he’s:
              a) got himself into this situation, and
              b) getting advice from his lawyer.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  13th May 2016

              I’m sure Winston could have given him better advice in the first place on how to make accusations without any factual basis. He doesn’t seem to need another lawyer for that.

            • Gezza

               /  13th May 2016

              Most judges would probably try to avoid getting a Winston case because of the mental gymnastics required to unravel his sophistical replies to his accusers’ counsel.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  13th May 2016

              I would think it sensible to have objective advice from another lawyer. You know the old chestnut about the man who’s his own lawyer having a fool for a client.

              Do judges have a choice ? Imagine it. every judge in NZ having flu at the same time when a Winston case was coming up.

  3. Blazer

     /  13th May 2016

    Little must be regarded as a real threat for Keys supporter to go to this length,no good will come from it.

    Reply
    • “Mrs Hagaman said it was a “political beat-up” by Mr Little.

      “We are not interested in being Mr Little’s political football. These nasty and unfounded allegations need to stop and I would urge Andrew Little to stop wasting tax payer money on trying to promote his own political party and ego.”

      Mrs Hagaman said in the past the couple had voted for Labour.

      “One of the privileges of being a New Zealander is the ability to have freedom of choice and vote or donate to any political party one chooses. In the past both Earl and I have voted Labour but that was when the party had strong morals and direction and did not practice bully tactics on innocent people.”

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11625901

      Labour has been the author of its own misfortunes Blazer. “Keys supporters” (sic) haven’t had to do anything except sit back and chuckle.

      Reply
  4. Brown

     /  13th May 2016

    He will apologise because he can’t afford not to- he’s out of his league here because the Hagamans are not in kindy – but will still pretend he’s the defender of all goodness and honesty by being an idiot. I think if he sat down next to me I’d move out of a fear that what ever he’s got that makes him so stupid could be contagious.

    Reply
  5. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  13th May 2016

    Andrew Little is a lawyer. He has been around the media and has been involved in politics for yonks. He should never had made such a basic error. Facts were not checked. His arrogance got the better of him.
    Whether he apologises or not is irrelevant in my mind. He has once again shown himself to be an incompetent dolt.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  13th May 2016

      as opposed to a ‘competent dolt.’..like um…John Key!

      Reply
      • Brown

         /  13th May 2016

        I’ve encountered many lawyers during litigation and opinion seeking over the years. A few struck me as competent but the qualification seemed no measure of intelligence.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  13th May 2016

          Says someone with no idea of what doing a law degree entails, it would appear.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  13th May 2016

            Why keep on litigating and asking for opinions, if that’s how you feel ?

            Reply
          • Blazer

             /  13th May 2016

            they are churning out people with law degrees like you wouldn’t believe.I think they had to cap enrolements.

            Reply
  6. Alan Wilkinson

     /  13th May 2016

    Andrew Little – you don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  13th May 2016

      I do-both ! 😀 😦

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  13th May 2016

        Me too. One often leads to the other. It’s a physiology thing.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  13th May 2016

          Like when I was reading the William book in Hamilton that day and crying with laughter. I can still remember sitting there, in tears of mirth-it was the one with the archaeologist’s display when…

          From the sound of it, my Indian friend was lucky not to have been greeted by the men in white coats when the train stopped-he was reading the William with the Fat Wild Woman in it. Fat Wild Woman’s Kome-oh dear !

          Reply

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